Baillie, Norsby honored for 60, 50 years with Legion

April 18, 2014
Tim Chapman - Tribune Editor , Pierce County Tribune

The dedication of Fred Duane Baillie and Ray Norsby is laudable to say the least.

The 86-year-old Baillie, a World War II and Korean War veteran, still makes a point of sending his regrets to the families of fellow veterans when they die.

The 82-year-old Norsby, a Korean War veteran, has served the Rugby American Legion (Clarence Larson Post 23) in just about every capacity and takes great pride in serving in the Honor Guard when families request it.

Baillie and Norsby were recognized for 60 and 50 years, respectively, of service to the Legion at the organization's meeting on April 10.

"It was pretty nice," Baillie said. "I'm kind of surprised to last that long."

Baillie got to the Philippines as World War II was ending and then spent time on Japan's Northern Honshu island before being transferred to a special troops medics division in Yokohama, Japan's second largest city.

Baillie was called on again to serve his country in the Korean War. He was beginning pharmacy school in Fargo when he received a letter to report. He was stationed at a military hospital.

He returned to pharmacy school and married Irene. Baillie went on to work for and eventually own the family business, Baillie's Drug Store, for 46 years. He joined the Legion about four years after returning from Korea.

"It was a good program and still is," Baillie said. "I'm part of the WWII Last Man's Club and there's a few of us left. When that one ends I'll join the Korean Last Man's Club."

The Rugby native will find good company there. Army veteran Norsby started the post's Korean War Last Man's Club.

"I wasn't very active for a few years, but later on I ended up in some of the offices with the Legion," said Norsby, a former commander.

"It was an honor for me when I joined this year and looked on my card and saw 50 years of continual membership with the Legion. There's not too many that get to 50 and Duane Baillie got to 60 and that was real special to him.

Norsby recently started the Korean War Last Man's Club and it's kept him busy.

"I've just been gathering up names this past year," Norsby said. "I started the club here and I have about a dozen members and there's a few others I haven't been able to contact yet."

Norsby, originally of Glenburn, wasn't deployed to Korea, but served between 1950 and 1955. Individuals who served outside of Korea during that time frame are also Korean War Veterans.

"When I went into the service, I was hoping to see some of the country and it didn't work out that way," Norsby said.

He was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, but spent the majority of his time at Fort Riley in Kansas. Norsby and his wife Jan moved to Rugby in 1960, where he began teaching after graduating from Minot State Teacher's College. He joined the Legion four years later.

"I just enjoyed the camaraderie of the other people and I try to attend the meetings as much as I can," Norsby said. "One of the things that I'm still quite active in is the Honor Guard. We serve at funerals of passed veterans and I still enjoy doing that and (participating) in Veterans Day and Memorial Day."

Norsby, the father of three grown children, cherishes being able to attend the American Legion's national conventions in 1975 and 1994. Both took place in Minneapolis.

"That was pretty special for me, especially in 1975 to march in the parade," he said.